The genocide of Native Americans and the original and unexpiated sin against blacks aside, it can be difficult to rate the victims of American bigotry in any order of persecution. There’s been so many over the years: Women, Catholics, Jews, Muslims, Irish, Italians, atheists, Latinos, Asians, unionists, Arabs, anyone not heterosexually Puritan, anyone not a Puritan, as was our founding Plymouth crock, everyone on welfare, and so on. At least what Hawthorne called our “persecuting spirit” waxes and wanes. Yesterday’s enemies can become today’s tolerated citizens, if not occasional heroes, particularly when new enemies are recycled.
Asians had an especially hard time over a century and a half. Until the recent Muslim ban, which affects 11 countries (most of them with Muslim majorities, with a couple thrown in to pretend otherwise), only Asians had been subjected to wholesale immigration bans. We had the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, expanded in 1917 to include a so-called “Asiatic Barred Zone,” and again in 1924, by which time the immigration ban included almost all of Asia. In 1942 over 100,000 Japanese-Americans, most of them at least as American as Douglas MacArthur, became the only Americans locked up in concentration camps for the duration of World War II. The U.S. Supreme Court corrected that offense in law only two years ago–in the same decision that upheld the Muslim ban.
More recently Japan sustained all that bashing in the 1980s and early 90s when its economic prowess seemed on the verge of overtaking America’s. The bashing soon shifted to China, whose economy is set to overtake America’s in the next decade or two. So it’s not a surprise that Donald Trump, a racist by instinct and default, tapped into that old Yellow Peril tradition and started calling the novel coronavirus the “Chinese virus,” ordering staffers to do likewise. Their excuse: well, the virus started in China, didn’t it?
There’s little question that it did, or that China lied, downplayed and mishandled the outbreak in its earliest weeks (rather as Trump has since, long after China got its act together). But that’s not why anyone calls it the “Chinese virus.” They do so–you do so, if you’re in that herd–for ideological reasons, which in this case are indistinguishable from racist motives. At a cultural festival celebrating diversity and heritage you can say that so-and-so is of Iberian descent, of Asian descent, of Middle Eastern descent. It’s not offensive. It’s like fluttering another country’s flag in ancestral celebration. The context is clear.
Just as clearly, when the context is political, polemical, adversarial, when you refer to someone’s ancestry, you’re doing so for no other reason than to differentiate, to raise a suspicion of foreignness you know your audience is lapping up, assuming your audience is the lapping kind. You’re certainly not honoring the subject. You’re not being geographically correct. You’re being a bigot, and a cowardly one at that if you hide behind that claim of strictly factual innocence no one believes, including you. You know what you’re doing, unless you’re an idiot, which you most certainly are not.
The consensus among most scientists is that the Spanish flu of 1918 emerged in barracks in Kansas. No one calls it the Kansas flu, the Midwest flu, the American flu, though by Trumpian standards, the smear might fit. The only reason it was called the Spanish flu is because unlike the American, French or British press at that point in World War I, the Spanish press was not censored, and unlike the American press, the Spanish press reported on the pandemic honestly. For that, Spain was tagged as the implicit originator of the worst pandemic in history. Spain has hated it since. (Six years ago National Geographic reported the findings of a Canadian historian who theorized that the 1918 pandemic was brought into the Western Front by Chinese laborers, which would make China the origin of that virus as well. But theories abound, including claims that space is to blame. It’s another reason why geographic tags of viruses are themselves diseased.)
In 2015 the World Health Organization issued its best practices on naming new diseases. Geographic locations, people’s names, occupational references or “terms that incite undue fear” should all be avoided, the WHO claimed, for obvious reasons: those terms target entire populations rather than inform in a neutral way. And viruses are, if anything, neutral: they can emerge anywhere. They respect no borders. They don’t carry passports. They kill as indiscriminately as a hurricane or any other “act of god.” (I realize that by dropping the WHO’s name here, the lappers will go a-yapping all over the place about the WHO’s worthlessness. It’s detractors’ easiest tactic, focus on a peripheral detail to avoid addressing the subject at hand. For the sake of argument, let’s ascribe the WHO’s recommendations to, say, Pope Benedict or your aunt Martha, if you prefer, and go gladiatorial on the WHO some other day. Deal?)
We can call the coronavirus by its clinical name. We can call it something neutral. We have choices. Right now, calling it the virus seems to be enough, though spiking it with a damn once in a while couldn’t hurt. No one would mistake it for ebola (named, unfortunately, for a river in the Congo) or AIDS (once called the “gay” disease). But it takes a certain kind of malice to call it the “Chinese virus” or one of its other xenophobic variants–the “foreign virus,” the “Wuhan virus,” or that choice poison of vulgar bigots, “Kung Fu,” apparently favored by Trump’s aides–because no one is ignorant of the connotation.
Four months into this gorgon-headed plague, no one can claim that calling Covid-19 by these names is not xenophobic name-calling, or claim ignorance of the fact that Asian-Americans are being “beaten, spat on, yelled at and insulted from coast to coast,” as the Times reported in March. These aren’t isolated incidents. The Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council reported in late April 1,500 claims of hate against Asian-Americans in a single month. Call it the “Chinese virus,” and you’re complicit in the violence. It’s not just coast to coast of course. Earlier this month the Secretary General of the United Nations said “the pandemic continues to unleash a tsunami of hate and xenophobia, scapegoating and scare-mongering” across the globe. He urged governments to “act now to strengthen the immunity of our societies against the virus of hate.”
Trump could have responded accordingly. He could have done what George W. Bush did after 9/11, when he repeatedly extended amity to Arab and Muslim Americans to minimize backlash against them. Instead, Trump doubled down.
Americans collectively are facing more challenges than at any point since the Depression. We have at least 40 million unemployed. Millions are mourning the deaths of 100,000 of us or contending with recovery from a virus with endless new ways to harm, even after recovery. We face uncertainty for months or years. This president is busy willfully stoking bigotry against a sixth of the planet’s population and its expats all over the United States, spreading conspiracy theories, and appealing to Americans’ basest instincts, which so often are indistinguishable from his base.
It’s too early for herd immunity against Covid-19. Herd immunity against hate is not as uncertain. It costs nothing. It can be immediate. Presidents worthy of the name might start by setting the nobler example. Lacking that, it’s up to us. Our deplorable history of degrading Asians and Asian Americans is long enough. Let’s call this virus by its name and not weaponize it more than it already is, considering that half our household goods and nearly a fifth of our foreign debt are made in China.
Pierre Tristam is FlaglerLive’s editor. Reach him by email here. A version of this piece aired on WNZF.
Dennis C Rathsam says
Chinese slur my butt! They have been ripping the US off for many many years! They constantly steal our government secrets, students here as promets of the comunist regime! They sent us bad poision dry wall, tires that fell apart, dog food ,that wasnt fit for any poor animal, full of carsigenics!!!! China is not our friend, WAKE UP people & support the president or LEARN HOW TO SPEAK CHINESE……….
China has yearned for centuries to become the worlds top economic power and were getting close until Trump came along. They’ll sacrifice their own to achieve whatever agenda is of greatest importance to them. This virus release was intentional in an attempt to level the economic playing field but Trump stopped flights from China and they didn’t wipe out the entire country as they intended. They have been testing this virus’s spreadable ability on pigs for decades and released one of their most contagious lab created diseases. Here’s the twist. Don’t think for one second that this is the best spreadable deadly virus they have.
Name (required) says
After reading only several of these comments I can say one thing… I wouldn’t wish the American virus upon any living thing on this planet. What a despicable, crude, ignorant, uneducated, blasphemous, sanctimonious and selfish breed. That. Is. All.
We’ll learn to speak Chinese just as soon as you learn how to spell English
Dennis C Rathsam says
Yes Yes IT is true… I cant spell, who cares… I went to work at 12, put 3 kids through college, one is a dr. My wife & I own 3 rental properties here in Palm Coast! Yes Dennis cant spell… But he knows how to make money….Would u rather be a rich, bad ,speller, or a poor good speller? America is the land of opertunity if you put your mind to it you too can be successfull, U just gotta work hard, & invest right! The chevvy salsman didnt care if Dennis could spell,he just wanted to sell a Corvette, Cadillac salesman didnt care either, he just wanted to sell a new Cadillac!
Sandra Sites says
Well, the best I can say of you is that at least you are using your own name (I assume.) Otherwise, the racist remarks and deplorable spelling are hopefully leading people to not follow YOUR lead, or your leader’s. But, then again, that may be giving your local bros too much credit.
Dennis C Rathsam says
It amazes me that so many people here in Palm Coast are such great spellers. Personally I dont give a rats ass. My name is on my post because Im proud of who I’am. and what I have done in 67 years. I cant spell, but I put all 3 of my kids through college, one is a doctor. I own 3 rental properties here in town, but Dennis cant spell! Im a published author too! Every Easter I cooked the biggest ham I could find, and take it to the library to feed all the homeless people there! You dont have to spell to be a good person… Poke fun at me, I dont care I know God loves me!
Anna Mac says
I’m proud of you, Dennis. Intelligent people recognize that everyone has skills and strengths in different areas. While a terrific speller, I’d give much to be an entrepreneur such as you. People who can implement their own big ideas make this country great. Thanks!
Susan E Sisk says
Thank you! China would love nothing but for us all to die! We finally have a president that realises this! I have lived my entire life in this country and refuse to allow other countries to destroy us!!! It’s about time we have a leader who cares about Americans!
Rosanna Barraducci says
WOW, I found someone on here with a mind to think on his own.
Barry Tighe says
That is called American GREED.
Michael Dawson says
If we survive long enough, this kind of childish stuff will be seen as last-gasp crudity. Using nationalism to deflect from your own society’s mega-expensive non-preparedness. Disgusting.
Susan Sisk says
Oh wait…our colleges are all democratic/socialist/dictatorship universities now….oops…
We dont have to support the orange blowhards Policies to know that China is for China. Trump is a failure.Plain and simple. His method of Unilateral Tariff negogiations is a recipe for failure along with His Trade Agreement which is basically DOA. All this Economic suffering by Corporate America for nothing just like his shutdown of Goverment amounted to nothing. How is a Wall goung to stop a Virus lol Keep drinking the Koolaid. See you in Nov.
Clearly, you are a one sided author and the foul of your language is evident of hate. Not only towards the POTUS, but inclusive of the people, the voters, the legal patriotic Americans that overwhelmingly decided that Trump is the best for the United States and made promises he could keep. As you mentioned, the geographic naming of viruses such as Ebola, named after a river, has always had that origin. West Nile, African swine flu and as you mentioned, the Spanish flu. That being said, China is notorious for their viruses from who cares what or how it made it outside their laboratories, it is what it is, the CHINESE virus. Certainly, if a lab virus in the USA would have leaked and spread to China, the Chinese government would name it the American virus but you would be in acceptance of that, evidently.
“And viruses are, if anything, neutral: they can emerge anywhere. They respect no borders. They don’t carry passports. They kill as indiscriminately as a hurricane or any other “act of god.”
Well, by the Chinese own admission, it originated in a wet market, so they say, in Wuhan and having had knowledge of the contagious level of this strain of their many viruses, they kept it a secret allowing travel throughout the globe. The world found out via a whistleblower that they permanently silenced including his roommate and several others. Sure, viruses do respect borders but do need transfer agents and in this case, the human body that did need passports and kill by the acts or lack of acts by man, not god.
Blame Trump all you so desire but doing so, very much accommodates your hate-filled words with that of the fake news media. Your lack of respect for the president of the United States and the Patriots of America is reminiscent of a loser tantrum. Sure, call it freedom of speech if you wish.
“..but inclusive of the people, the voters, the legal patriotic Americans that overwhelmingly decided that Trump is the best for the United States…”
No….NO… American voters DID NOT “overwhelmingly decide” – about 3,000,000 MORE “legal patriotic citizens” voted for his opponent….3,000,000 MORE – Trump was legitimately elected President – but by receiving more electoral college votes, NOT by an “overwhelming vote” of citizens. This is a basic distinction about our system that you should have learned in grammar school.
It’s this type of misinformation that is a danger to our survival as a free society – such a fundamental misunderstanding of reality is dangerous….but it’s what Trump feeds on and hopes to use for his ends.
A Concerned Observer says
Wake up readers. In case you’ve been living under a rock somewhere, here are just a few of the poisonous, filthy and otherwise dangerous products lately from China. China IS NOT a county we can trust or a country we should assume who’s imports are safe, wholesome products. This is not racism. This is protecting ourselves from unscrupulous state sponsored purveyors of substandard, unsafe and even poisonous products faster than we can inspect and block their entry into our nation.
• http://archive.boston.com/business/gallery/china_watchlist/ (click on “Next” at bottom right of the window that opens
Would you like more, just GOOGLE poisonous products from China or unsafe products from China. The list is too long for this comment.
Sorry, Pierre–but the latest information traces the first evidence of importation of the virus to be as early as end of January of this year. it entered the US through Washington state (the Seattle area) by a person who had traveled to the Wuhan area of China and then back home. What is NOT known, at this point, was how the virus originated in China in the forst place–Scientists have been pretty firm in their belief that it is not a manufactured or man-made entity. Later strains of the virus entered the US from other ports of entry that originated from Europe.
We need to get over this “blame game” thingie we have going. That sort of information is only useful as to how it pertains to its genesis so scientists and medical professionals can use it to suppress future outbreaks and develop medicines to treat it and vaccines to prevent it.
Every government and global health agency has egg on their face with this one…including right here in the USA.
SARS…also racist? It’s moronic to say that.
The truth is beautiful! The truth is a national vitamin!
So many facts in this article. No need to repeat!
Susan Sisk says
One more comment Mr Tristan …right now the the majority of cases in Washington state. Are people under 40!!!!? China didn’t do this….wake up….it affects blood vessels like nothing ever seen before..
Oh yeah it was bats and the world is all good….wake up??!!!?
Willy Boy says
Now the scientists are fingering the pangolins for incubating Covid-19. Travel ban on Pangolia?
Susan Sisk says
One more comment concerning people from all around the world…covids effect on child care. Live within you mean and raise you child yourself! I don’t know how.to say it more simply no mcancions, fancy cars and hair and nails, etc. No fancy vacations and dinners out…was my life andy my kids and we all are doing better than most
More pseudo-intellectual babble from Flagler County’s Imam. Tell everyone down at the mosque I said hello.
Mike Cocchiola says
Nice going, Brian. You just helped prove Pierre’s point. America is obsessed with race and ethnicity under Trump’s demagoguery. No matter if the virus came from China, it was not planned or manufactured. Trump just needed a demon to divert your attention from his failures and to promote his virulent brand of nationalism. It’s a common tactic of dictator-wannabes. Poland’s Duda has his anti-semitism, Turkey’s Erdoğan his Kurds and Bolsanaro his domestic critics.
China is not our enemy and COVID-19 is not their “fault”. Yes, they delayed action. So did we. Yes, they lied. So did we. But no, they didn’t purposefully create the virus. And no, Trump did not save millions of American lives by stopping flights from China. Before he imposed his very selective and porous “ban” on January 31, 300,000 people came here from China in the previous month. The virus was already here in force. He, his staff and selected Republicans knew about it (some sold stocks) but did nothing except to obfuscate and lie to Americans. Trump’s willful incompetence probably caused 50,000 unneeded American deaths. So, to be accurate, we can call this the Trump coroincompetencevirus.
The past US presidents and aided chins and enabled then to kick our but. China is our enemy and it’s about time America realizes it.
Hopefully resident says
Pierre Tristam I don’t think you are a qualified to be writing an editorial about anti asian sentiment. Seeing you are an editorial writer and not an anti asian sentiment historian. You always write these bias columns on the racist actions by others. But in reality you are just trying to shame people for being nationalist and standing up as americans. You should stop writing articles to divided people. You wrote this to get a rise out of people not to solve the problem or to start a conversation to ease the tension you seem to know so well. Being a white American. I can understand if you were from asian dissent. But you are not. There is a lot more going on in Palm Coast other than your opinion on the term to be used to describe a virus. So quit with the race baiting and start doing your job and report on relevant matters.
Lets be clear about one thing, Covid-19 originated in China, this is a fact. As far as calling it the “Chinese Virus”, I’ve have never heard anyone say that in my presence, but I’ve read it here several times, mostly in articles or commentary such as this, which is left leaning.
“Four months into this gorgon-headed plague, no one can claim that calling Covid-19 by these names is not xenophobic name-calling, or claim ignorance of the fact that Asian-Americans are being “beaten, spat on, yelled at and insulted from coast to coast,” as the Times reported in March. These aren’t isolated incidents.” Actually they are more isolated than you would have us think. This is a statement repeated from another commentary printed by FL, not long ago, regarding incidents in Calilfornia and New York. We know FL’s opinion on this, as you’ve printed the article from “The New York Times” previously.
I guess FL would rather blame the United States, President Trump and Gov. DeSantis for your inconvenience, when in fact, the problem originated in China.
But good for us, we all call it Covid-19, however I’m surprised we do, since covid, and China, start with the same letter. I’m sure the next complaint, there’s that letter “C” again, will be we change the name to “The Virus”, origin unknown.
The latter half of your last sentence is the most significant thought provoking point of this entire waste of space. Let those words sink in really deep. More than ever before we need to sever ourselves from communist countries and dictators. In the not too distant future we will be welcoming thousands of residents of Hong Kong to our country with open arms. That is a much better deal than thousands of caravans coming from Central America or worse yet radical Islamic terrorists.
CB from PC says
How many Chinese living here in 2020 America have had their families physically attacked, businesses looted or burned due to the “Chinese Virus”?
“Complicit in the violence”, my ass.
This is fiddling while the Barbarians are at the gates.
Major Metropolitan areas are being destroyed by the war between between those who understand there is a legal process to justice, and those who may as well be lynch mob vigilantes.
I am glad to see that the cop has been arrested.
instead of urging this process play out, you have asshole race-baiter Al Sharpton upset because the rioters did not exclusively burn non-black owned businesses.
These people who have destroyed their communities want change?
Let them have it.
No ‘re-building funds from tax payers. Leave them to their own devices to “rebuild” their communities in the vision they want. Guarantee it will make a third world slum look like Beverly Hills.
BTW, Japanese Americans were in relocation camps, not concentration camps.
One could make a case that the former was for their protection given the anti- Japanese sentiment after the unprovoked attack on Pearl Harbor killing 3000 plus American sailors and soldiers.
Trailer Bob says
This news source is called “FlaglerLive”, but what I gain from reading it is that the owner of the publication is way over the top on attacking Trump and anyone who voted for him and his team. I agree on racism issues, as I see people for what they are…even seeing China as not a friend, nor do they wish to be our friends.
Now there is the form of seeing people as a nation, or as individuals, and I prefer the latter. I think systemic racism is a sign of ignorance, hate, and insecurity.
You also say that we get many of our products from China, as if we should be thrilled about that. Fact is, basically everything made in China for public consumption or use is garbage that lasts about as long as the batteries do. To say otherwise is ridiculous.
There is little doubt that the virus was from China and that it was China that let it spread outside of its borders. I am quite confident
that had the virus come out of France we would be calling it the French Virus. To say that is racial or antinational is purely emotional. I think is is fair and accurate to state that most of us Americans are not too pleased with China right now, or the damage it has done on many millions of us. Some of us lost years of gains, others lost everything. At this point I almost feel like putting an “F******” China in front of the word Virus is deserved.
there is no problem with calling this the chinese virus,it came from china ,what I have a problem with is people picking on and attacking chinese people . The chinese who live amongst us legally had nothing to do with the releasing of this virus.The other thing I have a problem with and always have a problem with is you using your little muslim version of pravda to continually attack the president. You really are a nasty little piss-ant for that. It must be nice to have the last word as to what gets printed in this forum so you can sow your own personal seeds of hate.
Honest Truth says
For all your trump supporters if china has been ripping us off for so many years, what is Donald Trump having his hats made there, his ties, his suits and princess Ivanka’s cloths she sells? Trump is attacking and blaming china now for his failures, as usual he has to blame someone else for his failure to our country.
Also, Trump supporters don’t forget Donald in January praised the leader of china and called the virus a democrat hoax.
So when you support trump wake up and remember the lies he spreads day in and day out. And if you don’t you are fools.
Anna Mac says
My Trump coffee mug is made in the U.S., “Honest Truth”.
Concerned Citizen says
I think everyone is missing the boat here. The blovated blowhard simply cannot say the words corona virus. Since he mangled it so very badly time after time, he changed it to the Chinese virus. Don’t give him more credit than he is due.
This all boils down to trump flailing around and trying to DISTRACT and BLAME the death of OVER 100,000 people in our country on anyone or anything else, but not trump! His “CULT” will believe ANYTHING he says! Since OBAMAGATE went over like a lead balloon, the FOX “CULT” is now focused away from trump and pointing fingers at China.
Yes, of course, the Chinese GOVERNMENT should be held accountable for ALL their failings and coverups, absolutely! BUT, BUT, BUT, to HATE and DEMONISE an entire race of people because of what their government leaders do, or don’t do IS absolutely racist! To act out against innocent Asian people because of what the Chinese GOVERNMENT does is racist, by definition!
Just go back and read the hate filled words spewed out in the comments here. Do you not understand that when you write disparaging words about innocent people, you are only displaying your own putrid soul. It’s pathetic that you are allowing FOX/trump to lead you by the nose into the gutter of human kind!
To those who continuously rant against Pierre Tristam, the wonderful, hard working owner and editor of FlaglerLive, do us all a favor and STOP! Please just drive right back into Breitbart/FOX, and leave the intelligent discourse to those of us who are more open minded civilized.
Stay safe and healthy! Take care of your neighbor. Wear your mask. Seek peace, joy and love!
John Parsons says
Pierre, I have applauded your commentary for years, however, you are slipping. Non partisan, factual journalism would not contain “ racist by instinct and default, ”. You disappoint me and those that follow you as a true reporter of news.
China has a proven reputation as a culture of exploiting any opportunity. That is not in dispute in my opinion. Our tolerance for it is cultural as we want more disposable products Txat low cost.
The political maneuvering on both sides of the aisle is going to be our true demise and we alone will have to face the consequences.
Enough of the partisan politics and let’s all deal with what’s facing us and look after one another.
China, politics, etc will all be here tomorrow, if we let it.
Keep Walking says
This is totally a bunch of lies.
It the virus came from China. They intentionally let it out to the world while closing off internal travel. They are Communists to them life is cheap and will stop at nothing to get to their goals. No social freedom no rule of law.
America has made many mistakes as all countries and people have . But we try and learn from them. We have done much more good than bad.
Watch Commie belt and Road program…bankrupting poor countries now they loaned out billions that can not be repaid and will take over many ports, airports and real estate in poor countries.
If Pierre you are a Muslim how can you defend them, with their concentration -re education camps for millions of Muslims.
PS very Suprised PETA people are not all over them for still eating Dogs and Bats
Trailer Bob says
I don’t know anyone that I am friends with that “hate Asians”. But I do know many people who despise the Chinese government. You must live in a different world than the rest of us. But nice try. That is like saying that people who believe New York City is overpopulated and congested feel the same about every US state. I think you may have been quarantined too long.
I actually have not heard the term Asian flu for awhile until this article. I think it quite a bit over. Oh, and China is negligent on this one whatever it’s called. How are they made to pay is a good question.
Anna Mac says
Many folks with a bully pulpit just hate the U.S., no matter what.
Derrick Redder says
So wait, China 19 is out?
Is Riot / or Looting 20, still Good?
Trailer Bob says
Apparently, as it seems some Americans(?) justify violence, looting, and burning people’s businesses down. Regardless of how one justifies it, it is wrong and misplaced. Did the writer ever get around to any empathy for those who lost everything during the riots of thugs?
Please tell me how you can justify destroying innocent people’s stores, homes, businesses. Please do.